Larry Davis is a senior research scientist in the Center for Language Education, Assessment, and Research (CLEAR) in the Research & Development division at ETS. He has a Ph.D. in second language studies from the University of Hawai'i, Manoa, where his dissertation work examined the effects of training and experience on rater behavior and cognition within a speaking test.
Since joining ETS in 2012, he has led several projects to develop innovative approaches for speaking assessment. A major strand of this research is the use of technology-mediated environments to assess complex speaking abilities such as pragmatics (social appropriateness) and interactional competence. This work has involved development and evaluation of face-to-face speaking tasks carried out using video conferencing technology as well development of traditional monologic speaking tasks that have been enhanced with richer context.
He has also consulted on the development of automated scoring of speech for use in both scoring assessments as well as providing feedback to support instruction and learning. Davis also serves on the ETS Constructed-Response Technical Advisory Committee and has collaborated in research investigating human scoring of writing and speaking.
Another major strand of Davis’s research has been the development of efficient, technology-mediated approaches to quickly and conveniently assess general language proficiency. He was part of the core team that developed the TOEFL ProPlacer® assessment, a rapid web-based test of English for placement uses. More recently, he served as the primary designer of the speaking and writing sections of the new TOEFL® Essentials™ test, an assessment of English proficiency for admissions purposes. In this role he led the design, prototyping, and piloting of new speaking and writing tasks, optimized for collecting maximal information on communicative skills while minimizing administration time and cost.
His publications include articles on rater expertise, interaction in paired speaking tests, development and use of scoring rubrics, assessment of speaking in technology-mediated environments, and the use of automated scoring technology to provide feedback on speaking.